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New York attorney general says a county must rescind its ban on female transgender athletes

New York State Attorney General Letitia James during a trip to Rochester in September, 2020.
James Brown
New York State Attorney General Letitia James during a trip to Rochester in September, 2020.

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday demanded that a county on Long Island scuttle its new prohibition against transgender women and girls competing in female sports.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman issued an executive order on Feb. 22 banning sports organizations from county-run athletic facilities if they allow transgender girls and women to compete on female teams.

The order specifically requires any sports teams, leagues, programs or organizations seeking a permit from the county's parks and recreation department to "expressly designate" whether they are male, female or coed based on their members' "biological sex at birth."

The order, which went into effect immediately, impacts more than 100 sites, from ballfields to basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools and ice rinks across the suburban New York City region, which is located just east of Queens and is the state's wealthiest county.

But James, in her "cease and desist" letter Friday, said the order is a clear violation of the state's anti-discrimination laws and must be rescinded in five days, or else the county will face legal action.

"The law is perfectly clear: You cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender identity or expression," the Democrat said in a statement. "This executive order is transphobic and blatantly illegal."

James also said the order will deter teams from other areas from competing in the county, and subjects women's and girls' sports teams to "intrusive and invasive questioning" and other unnecessary verification requirements.

Blakeman, a Republican, didn't respond to messages seeking comment Friday, but struck a defiant tone on social media.

"My EO stops the bullying of women and girls by transgender males who have many outlets to compete without putting the safety and security of females in danger," he wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, in which he included James' announcement. "In Nassau we will continue to fight for females' right to be safe, secure, and have a level playing field to compete."

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